Have you ever met a person who makes you feel completely inadequate when it comes to the things that really matter in life? Oh sure, you manage to get your family out the door with a decent breakfast, and you take in your neighbors’ mail when they go on vacation. You even send hand written thank-you notes after Christmas, which inexplicably feels harder every year. You are, by nearly every measure, a Good Person. But are you saving anybody’s life?
Last year, at a conference, I met a woman named Elizabeth Gore. Gore is the vice president of global partnerships for the United Nations Foundation and has made it her mission to raise the quality of life for countless under-privileged citizens of the world. I have now had a number of conversations with Gore, and they all follow the same pattern: She describes a global effort that she is involved in (like clean water, girls’ education, or malaria prevention); I am intrigued; I am awed; and then I begin to feel like a semiworthless human being.
In this issue, we all meet Ann Lee Hussey, an American polio survivor who has devoted her life to making sure that children around the world avoid her fate. Despite her own physical limitations (not to mention the physical danger, the political unrest, and the pretty awful weather), Hussey travels the globe to vaccinate children against polio. On one trip to Nigeria, she and her team vaccinated 10,655 children. I have vaccinated exactly three. And—let’s be honest—most of the credit goes to my pediatrician.
There are two things you can do when you meet people like Gore and Hussey. You can go back to bed for the rest of the day, nursing your inadequate self with potato chips and the beverage of your choice, preferably one that contains tequila. Or you can be inspired, and try to rise to the occasion.
Here at Real Simple, we’ve decided to take the latter approach. We are the media sponsor of the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, which encourages Americans to champion vaccination around the globe. Turn to page 168 to read Ann Lee Hussey‘s story, and go to page 172 to learn more about Shot@Life. Maybe you won’t save a life today. But the opportunity is closer than you think.